Motorcycle engine development generally tracks what’s happening on the automotive front, albeit on a smaller scale. In recent years, we’ve seen a wide range of cool pure-electric motorcycles like the Harley-Davidson Livewire and the Zero SR/S coming to market. These bikes are great for the city, but have limited range — especially limited when you hit the open road, one of the chief joys of owning a motorcycle.
Unlike in the automotive realm, however, hybrid motorcycles that would offer the best of both worlds — zero emissions on short trips around town during the week and the range to escape on the weekend — have yet to become A Thing. The technology is expensive and bulky for cars, after all, and those problems are compounded for motorcycles — which are, obviously, less expensive and lighter.
But that's about to change, as Kawasaki says it has a hybrid motorcycle powertrain under development.
The video above, where the brand made the announcement, does not reveal much; it’s hard to find more nebulous-sounding marketing verbiage than “Rideology meets Hybrid Power.” But Visor Down recently discovered a Kawasaki patent application for a switchable four-way drive system that would offer pure-gas, pure-electric, hybrid and battery regeneration modes. The patent also details a boost button that can drain the battery for a short acceleration burst, presumably much like Wolverine used in the first X-Men movie 20 years ago.
We fully expect to see the hybrid engine hit the Kawasaki lineup at some point. Why develop and announce one if not? However, plenty of other information — such as when hybrid power will happen, what form it will take and how much it will cost the consumer — has yet to be revealed. Watch this space.